“they have no American officer” (Huston, qtd. in Seguin)

Huston, 1836-37, “they have no American officer”

29 Huston had already made his position regarding Seguín known to President Houston in November 1836: “I do not believe thta Col. Seguin or that Major Western can command the men and they have no American officer but a smart litle [Lt.?] named Miller.” (Huston to Houston, November 10, 1836, Houston Collection, Catholic Archives of Texas, Austin.) [87] for Houston’s letter to Seguín countermanding General Huston’s order see appendix 36.

Juan N. Seguín, A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín, edited by Jesús F. de la Teja (Austin, Texas: State House Press, 1991), 86ff n. 29.

 

“there is a force at this place, which … has no other object than to gather the slaves and other property of these citizens” (Seguín)

{22}

From General Pedro de Ampudia
To Juan Seguín [incorrectly addressed to Erasmo Seguín, Juan’s father]
Contraband Marsh, Quarter until eight in the Evening, May 2, 1836

By way of a report received from the officer charged with assisting the sick, I am informed that there is a large force in those woods, which, according to you, has as its sole objective the recovery of black slaves and such [property] as may belong to the citizens of this country. In regard to the former, I say to you that there are no slaves at this place and, with regard to the latter, I have no knowledge of any property belonging to the individuals who accompany you.

[…][138]

{23}

From Juan Seguín
To General Pedro de Ampudia
Headquarters, Vanguard of the Army of Texas, May 3, 1836

By your communication dated a quarter before eight in the evening yesterday, I am informed that from the report given to you by the officer in charge of assisting the sick, you learned there is a force at this place, which, as I stated to the said officer, has no other object than to gather the slaves and other property of these citizens. [To which] purpose my commanding general, upon ordering me and the vanguard to observe the enemy’s movements in its retreat, instructed me to communicate with its leader in order to let him know that the slaves who were to be returned as a result of the negotiations (which, upon my departure from General Headquarters, were being celebrated with the President of Mexico), were to be turned over to me and not left loose in the fields, and that in the future the President of Mexico’s troops were not to avail themselves of Texas property.

Juan N. Seguín, A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín, edited by Jesús F. de la Teja (Austin, Texas: State House Press, 1991), 137-138.

“The contention grew to the point where the americanos took up arms and said they would put an end to all the ‘greasers’ in their midst.” (Tafolla)

On the Texas side of the river, there was a captain named Brunington who belonged to our regiment and who had lived on the Rio Grande border for many years. He’d been captain of the Texas Rangers and knew the Mexicans well. He was in charge of a small patrol guarding the border on the Texas side. One day he came to our camp with ten men and delivered a Mexican prisoner to the guards, warning them to take twice as much caution with him or he would escape.

[…] [65] The corporal, getting impatient, just grabbed him by the arm and lifted him up. As he stood up, we discovered that he’d taken the chain off his feet and was just waiting for nighttime in order to escape. Upon standing, he looked down at his feet and said, “Look, it came loose.” This made everybody in the room die laughing, and shout and throw their hats up in the air. Captain Brunington came running at the sounds of the shouts and asked the prisoner, “What’s going on, man?” And the prisoner, with a feigned innocence, replied, “The chain came undone.”

Then the captain said to the soldiers, “This Mexican is going to get away from you, and the one who lets him get away is going to be punished severely.” And some answered, “I’d like to see him get away from me!”

Santiago Tafolla, A Life Crossing Borders: Memoir of a Mexican-American Confederate. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press. Edited by Carmen Tafolla and Laura Tafolla. Translated by Fidel L. Tafolla. 64-65.

When Menchaca got back with the two prisoners, he said to the captain, “What do you think about Menchaquita? Will he at least be made a corporal?” Another one of us, a German who had also cut off from the group, came back with two more prisoners. Since the rest of us were already on Texas soil, and they saw the German alone on the Mexican side, a mob of men and women came up on him shouting “Kill him! Kill him!” and someone shot him in the back with a rifle. The bullet went through him and they would have killed him had our soldiers not lined up along the river’s edge and protected him. Our men fired a volley, and knocked down their leader, who was one horseback in front, and they succeeded in  dismounting him. And the rest of them fled when they saw us finish crossing over.

I came inside, cursing heavily against those who’d shot the German. […]

[69] But the Mexican we had chained earlier escaped in a tragically sad manner. [prisoner escapes across Rio Grande, unharmed despite attempts to shoot him while swimming the river] There were many Americans from up North on board and they began making fun of us, shouting harassments, and calling us cowards. […]

Santiago Tafolla, A Life Crossing Borders: Memoir of a Mexican-American Confederate. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press. Edited by Carmen Tafolla and Laura Tafolla. Translated by Fidel L. Tafolla. 68-69.

[Tafolla goes on leave to visit family, Confederate Army begins retreat from Rio Grande to Corpus.] The day we arrived back to the regiment, I was surrounded by my mexicano friends who were still left in the regiment (as many had already deserted). They begged me to word a petition to Col. Duff asking that we be transferred to the regiment of Col. Santos Benavides, who was in charge of a regiment of mexicanos in the service of the Confederate States. Because of my absence, Corporal Juan Mercado had disappeared from one day to the next, and it was believed that he had been hanged.

We had in our regiment a group of about ten men who had the bad reputation of hanging folks. And it was said that they had hanged several men who didn’t go along with their ideas. Among these hangmen, there was a captain named Taylor who they said had a grudge against Corporal Mercado and had threatened to hang him. He made this threat in the presence of one of Corporal Mercado’s friends, a man named Juan Santa Ana. Santa Ana told Corporal Mercado about the threat. Since [71] Mercado had disappeared so suddenly, the boys believed he had been hanged. It was for this reason that the mexicanos wanted to be transferred to Benavides’ regiment. They feared for their lives in our own regiment, for at every step there were constant and ugly disagreements between the mexicanos and americanos. The colonel, however, denied our petition, telling us that we were mistaken. He assured us that Corporal Mercado had not been hanged.

About this time, Col. Duff received orders to take his regiment to the state of Louisiana. After marching about ten days, while camped on the Lavaca River, a dispute arose between a mexicano and an americano. The contention grew to the point where the americanos took up arms and said they would put an end to all the “greasers” [griseros] in their midst. Then I and a German friend of mine, Fred Metzger, who had previously served five years in the U.S. Cavalry with me, put ourselves in between the contending parties and succeeded in calming them. This friend’s name is Fred Metzger, and he lives today in Hondo, in Medina County. I believe that if it were not for him, many would have died that day.

That day, all my mexicano friends decided to desert that very night. They insisted that I go along with them, saying that we could take the best horses in the regiment and leave that night.

Santiago Tafolla, A Life Crossing Borders: Memoir of a Mexican-American Confederate. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press. Edited by Carmen Tafolla and Laura Tafolla. Translated by Fidel L. Tafolla. 70-71.

Deserts: 71-80.

“In the fall of that year I went to San Antonio and joined the Confederate Army” (Tafolla)

In 1862 I got a job at Camp Verde taking care of the camels the government had there, and I worked at it for about eight months. In the fall of that year I went to San Antonio and joined the Confederate Army, under the battalion of Col. Duff. During that winter, the battalion guarded the border from Laredo to San Antonio, and nearby points. From the very beginning, they assigned me to duty as a bugler, as they knew I had served in this role in the U.S. Army.

In Spring of 1863 we marched to Brownsville, and upon our arrival there, the battalion was merged into a regiment commanded by Col. Duff and Lt. Col. James Sweet. That year we guarded the border from the mouth of the Rio Grande in the Gulf of Mexico to Eagle Pass. Several times my company was assigned to the duty of guarding the place where the Rio Grande enters the Gulf.

[…]

[67] One of our men by the name of Manuel Menchaca, a native of San Antonio, mounted a horse he’d found staked out and pursued two of the men who were asleep in their hide-out in the sand dunes, where he captured them. He had a single-shot pistol, and each of them had a six-shooter.

Santiago Tafolla, A Life Crossing Borders: Memoir of a Mexican-American Confederate. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press. Edited by Carmen Tafolla and Laura Tafolla. Translated by Fidel L. Tafolla. 64, 67.

Notes with capsule bios of Juan N. Cortina and Col. Santos Benavides, LCB 121 n. 75 (Cortina), 76 (Benavides)

Joins U.S. 2nd Cavalry, spends 5 years fighting mainly in Comanche Wars, 1855-1860. 31-61.

Confederate military career as a whole, through desertion to Mexico: 64-80.